7th and 8th grade are not fun for most people, for a girl like me, they were excrutiating. I was the fat girl and pretty much an outcast. I took control of my weight before heading to high school and finally elleviated my outcast status (having a “popular” older brother and sister was a definite bonus for a geek like me).
Needless to say, I was ecstatic when 8th grade graduation rolled around. Valley Junior High School to me signified only PAIN. During Junior High I had experienced one rejection after another. So, the end of the story is quite fitting.
Graduation was the end, but it almost didn’t happen. I was horrified. I wanted nothing more than to be done with Junior High. For me, there wasn’t any graduation pomp and circumstance. In fact, I would have been better off if I was a no-show. It wasn’t that my grades weren’t good, or that, like all of the rest of the kids, I hadn’t earned the right to move to the 9th grade. My graduation was just one HUGE oversight by the school’s administration.
On the night of graduation, all of the graduating students sat in their seats on the floor of the High School’s gymnasium. The bleachers above us were surrounded with wellwishers. Because my last name was Wills, I was on the back row. One row at a time, the students would line up to the side of the stage and wait for their name to be called. When they were called, they would climb up the stairs to the makeshift stage and retreive their diploma. The school’s new vice principal was doing the honors. It was just my luck that she was my former 6th grade teacher; you remember the Poltergeist incidence.
It was finally my row’s turn, the nerves were high and my self-esteem low. All of the “popular” kids got the biggest cheers on their trek across the stage. And the rest of us, would have one more opportunity to prove to the world that we were worthless. I knew that the only cheers I would get would be from my family. Thank goodness I had a lot of brothers and sisters and a mom who could cheer really loud.
I stood up and walked with the rest of the herd to the side of the stage. Everyone watched us as we awaited our turn. I was so self-conscience, I knew everyone was watching me, waiting for a prime opporunity to “moo” or “boo” at me. I prayed that the kids would be kind; I didn’t want to embarass my family.
The way the system worked was like this. There was a volunteer standing down by the lined-up students. This volunteer had the list of names, as well as the person at the top of the stairs. And, of course, the vice-principal at the pulpit. When I got to my place in line, the volunteer double checked her list for my name. Alice Elaine Wills was not on the list. The vice-principal, oblivious to the mix-up, kept calling out names. All of the students that were behind me, would kindly walk around me. I kept being pushed and pushed to the back of my line. The volunteer next to me had a look of horror on her face and she kept trying to get the attention of the administration.
The administration on the stage finally realized what was happening. They consulted one another to figure out what name they should call so that this poor outcast girl could come up and fetch NOTHING (they had not prepared anything for me). You would think that because the vice-principal had been my teacher the whole year of 6th grade, she would be able to remember my name. But, I had either gained too much weight or she wanted to prolong my torture to get back at me for Poltergeist.
They all looked at each other in confusion. The volunteer asked me for my name and she started mouthing it to the people up on the stage. Of course this approach didn’t work. I stood, trying not to cry, because now all eyes were on me for sure! The volunteer went up and told the lady at the top of the stairs, who then told the vice-principal, who looked very surprised (she must have realized that she should have known my name). She called out Alice Wills. I walked up with my head down as low as possible, and tried to smile as the principal handed me some piece of notebook paper instead of my diploma.
I would never again have to step foot back at Valley Junior High. I didn’t care if the administration hadn’t given me a real diploma. Not receiving a diploma was nothing compared to the embarassment they caused me while I waited in that line. The people who hadn’t witnessed my line incident were brought up to speed with my nothingness when there was a huge lull right after Lisa Zarate and before Alice Wills. Even though I was a W, I brought up the rear. (so appropriate considering the size of my rear) As I walked back to take my seat, I passed all of my fellow Junior High Students. I felt nothing but RELIEF. Pomp and Circumstance night had officially mortified me just enough to call my junior high experience finished….what an appropriate finale.